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MAHARASHTRA SCHEDULED CASTES, SCHEDULED TRIBES, DE-NOTIFIED TRIBES, (VIMUKTA JATIS), NOMADIC TRIBES, OTHER BACKWARD CATEGORY (REGULATION OF ISSUANCE AND VERIFICATION OF) CASTE CERTIFICATE ACT, 2000: = a third party can not challenge caste certificate issued and approved long back itself to wreck his vengeance = Ayaaubkhan Noorkhan Pathan … Appellant Versus The State of Maharashtra & Ors. … Respondents = published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/helddis.aspx

MAHARASHTRA SCHEDULED CASTES, SCHEDULED TRIBES, DE-NOTIFIED TRIBES,

English: The supreme court of india. Taken abo...

English: The supreme court of india. Taken about 170 m from the main building outside the perimeter wall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(VIMUKTA JATIS), NOMADIC TRIBES, OTHER BACKWARD CATEGORY (REGULATION OF
ISSUANCE AND VERIFICATION OF) CASTE CERTIFICATE ACT, 2000:

Caste certificate – Appellant given employment on the basis of a caste
certificate showing that he belonged to Bhil Tadvi (Scheduled Tribe) –
Validity certificate issued by Caste Scrutinity Committee – Complaint by
respondent no. 5 that appellant obtained employment by misrepresentation –
High Court, in writ petition, directing Scrutinity Committee to hold de
novo inquiry with respect to appellant’s caste certificate – Held: Caste
certificates issued by holding proper enquiry, in accordance with duly
prescribed procedure, would not require any further verification by the
Scrutiny Committee – However, in the instant case, considering the
seriousness of the allegations, as the Scrutiny Committee has already
conducted an inquiry and the only grievance of the appellant is that there
has been non-compliance with the principles of natural justice, it is
directed that before the submission of any report by the Scrutiny
Committee, application of appellant for calling the witnesses for cross-
examination must be disposed of, and he must be given a fair opportunity to
cross-examine the witnesses, who have been examined before the Committee –
Further, as respondent no. 5 has not been pursuing the matter in a bonafide
manner, and has not raised any public interest, rather he abused the
process of the court only to harass the appellant, he is restrained from
intervening in the matter any further, and also from remaining a party to
it, and he is also liable to pay costs to the tune of Rs. one lakh –
Evidence Act, 1872 – s.114, I11(e) – Maxim “Omnia praesumuntur rite esse
acta”.

CONSTITUTION OF INDIA, 1950:

Art. 226 – Writ petition in public interest – Maintainaility of – Held:
There must be a judicially enforceable right available for enforcement, on
the basis of which writ jurisdiction is resorted to – The legal right that
can be enforced must ordinarily be the right of the petitioner himself, who
complains of infraction of such right and approaches the court – Whenever
any public interest is invoked, the court must examine the case to ensure
that there is, in fact, genuine public interest involved – Court must
maintain strict vigilance to ensure that there is no abuse of the process
of court – Supreme Court has consistently held that filing of public
interest litigation is not permissible so far as service matters are
concerned – In the instant case, respondent no.5 does not belong to
Scheduled Tribes category, but he has been pursuing the matter from one
court to another – His conduct is found to be reprehensible, and without
any sense of responsibility – Therefore, the Court is highly doubtful as
regards his bonafides – He has, therefore, disentitled himself from
appearing before any court, or Committee, so far as the instant matter is
concerned – Locus standi – Party – “Person aggrieved”- Public interest
litigation – Service law.

EVIDENCE ACT, 1872:

s.3 – `Evidence’ – Affidavit – Held: An affidavit is not evidence within
the meaning of s. 3 and the same can be used as “evidence” only if, for
sufficient reasons, court passes an order under O. 19 CPC – Thus, the
filing of an affidavit of one’s own statement, in one’s own favour, cannot
be regarded as sufficient evidence for any court or tribunal, on the basis
of which it can come to a conclusion as regards a particular fact-situation
Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 – O.19 and O. 18, rr. 4 and 5 – Affidavits.

NATURAL JUSTICE:

Cross-examination – Held: Is part of principles of natural justice – Not
only should the opportunity of cross-examination be made available, but it
should be one of effective cross-examination, so as to meet the requirement
of principles of natural justice.

The appellant was appointed in 1990 as a Senior Clerk in the Municipal
Corporation against the vacancy reserved for Scheduled Tribes, on the basis
of a caste certificate issued by the competent authority in his favour that
he belonged to Bhil Tadvi (Scheduled Tribe). The sad caste certificate was
referred to the Caste Certificate Scrutiny Committee, which issued a
validity certificate stating that the appellant belonged to Bhil Tadvi
(Scheduled Tribe). In 2009, respondent no. 5 filed a complaint before the
Scrutiny Committee for recalling the validity certificate on the ground
that the appellant professed the religion of Islam and, as such, he could
not be a Scheduled Tribe and he obtained the employment by way of
misrepresentation. The Scrutiny Committee rejected the application by
order dated 13.3.2009 observing that it had no power to recall or review a
caste validity certificate. Respondent no. 5 filed a writ petition before
the High Court seeking to quash the order dated 13.3.2009 and to direct the
Scrutiny Committee to hold de novo inquiry with respect to appellant’s
caste certificate. The High Court set aside the order dated 13.3.2009
passed by Scrutiny Committee and remitted the matter to it.

In the instant appeal, it was contended for the appellant that respondent
no. 5, being member of General category, had no locus to challenge
appellant’s caste certificate and, therefore, the High Court erred in
directing the Scrutiny Committee to entertain the complaint of respondent
no. 5; that despite the directions given by the Supreme Court, the Scrutiny
Committee failed to comply with the principles of natural justice, as the
appellant was denied the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses and no
order was passed on his application for recalling the witnesses for the
purpose of cross-examination.

Disposing of the appeal, the Court
HELD:

`Person aggrieved:’

1.1 A writ petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution is maintainable
either for the purpose of enforcing a statutory or legal right, or when
there is a complaint by the petitioner that there has been a breach of
statutory duty on the part of the Authorities. Therefore, there must be a
judicially enforceable right available for enforcement, on the basis of
which writ jurisdiction is resorted to. Court can of course, enforce the
performance of a statutory duty by a public body, using its writ
jurisdiction at the behest of a person, provided that such person satisfies
the court that he has a legal right to insist on such performance. The
existence of such right is a condition precedent for invoking the writ
jurisdiction of the courts. It is implicit in the exercise of such
extraordinary jurisdiction that the relief prayed for must be one to
enforce a legal right. Infact, the existence of such right is the
foundation of the exercise of the said jurisdiction by the court. The legal
right that can be enforced must ordinarily be the right of the petitioner
himself, who complains of infraction of such right and approaches the court
for relief as regards the same. [para 7]

State of Orissa v. Madan Gopal Rungta, 1952 SCR 28 = AIR 1952 SC 12;
Saghir Ahmad & Anr. v. State of U.P., 1955 SCR 707 = AIR 1954 SC 728;
Calcutta Gas Company (Proprietary) Ltd. v. State of West Bengal & Ors.,
1962 Suppl. SCR 1 = AIR 1962 SC 1044; Rajendra Singh v. State of Madhya
Pradesh, 1996 ( 4 ) Suppl. SCR 393 = AIR 1996 SC 2736; and Tamilnad
Mercantile Bank Shareholders Welfare Association (2) v. S.C. Sekar & Ors.,
2008 (17 ) SCR 85 = (2009) 2 SCC 784 – referred to.

1.2 The expression, “person aggrieved” does not include a person who
suffers from a psychological or an imaginary injury; a person aggrieved
must, therefore, necessarily be one, whose right or interest has been
adversely affected or jeopardised. It is a settled legal proposition
that a stranger cannot be permitted to meddle in any proceeding, unless he
satisfies the Authority/Court that he falls within the category of
aggrieved persons. Only a person who has suffered, or suffers from legal
injury can challenge the act/action/order etc. in a court of law.
[para 7-8]

Shanti Kumar R. Chanji v. Home Insurance Co. of New York, 1975 ( 1 ) SCR
550 =AIR 1974 SC 1719; and State of Rajasthan & Ors. v. Union of India &
Ors., 1978 ( 1 ) SCR 1 = AIR 1977 SC 1361; Anand Sharadchandra Oka v.
University of Mumbai, 2008 (2 ) SCR 297 = AIR 2008 SC 1289; Subhash Babu
v. State of A. P. 2011 (9 ) SCR 453 =AIR 2011 SC 3031; Charanjit Lal
Chowdhury v. The Union of India & Ors., 1950 SCR 869 =AIR 1951 SC 41; Sunil
Batra (II) v. Delhi Administration, 1980 ( 2 ) SCR 557 = AIR 1980 SC
1579; Mrs. Neelima Priyadarshini v. State of Bihar, AIR 1987 SC 2021;
Simranjit Singh Mann v. Union of India, 1992 Suppl. SCR 592 = AIR 1993
SC 280; Karamjeet Singh v. Union of India, 1992 ( 1 ) Suppl. SCR 898 =
AIR 1993 SC 284; and Kishore Samrite v. State of U.P. & Ors., JT (2012) 10
SC 393 – referred to.

1.3 Whenever any public interest is invoked, the court must examine the
case to ensure that there is, in fact, genuine public interest involved.
The court must maintain strict vigilance to ensure that there is no abuse
of the process of court, and should make an earnest endeavour to take up
those cases, where the subjective purpose of the lis justifies the need for
it. Even as regards the filing of a public interest litigation, this Court
has consistently held that such a course of action is not permissible so
far as service matters are concerned. In view of the decisions of the
Court, the law on the point can be summarised to the effect that a person
who raises a grievance, must show how he has suffered legal injury.
Generally, a stranger having no right whatsoever to any post or property,
cannot be permitted to intervene in the affairs of others. [para 12-13
and 15]

P.S.R. Sadhanantham v. Arunachalam & Anr., 2009 (16) SCR 111 = AIR 1980 SC
856; Dalip Singh v. State of U.P. & Ors., 2011 (6) SCR 403 = (2010) 2 SCC
114; State of Uttaranchal v. Balwant Singh Chaufal & Ors., 2010 (1) SCR 678
= (2010) 3 SCC 402; Amar Singh v. Union of India & Ors. 2011 (6) SCR 403 =
(2011) 7 SCC 69; Dr. Duryodhan Sahu & Ors. v. Jitendra Kumar Mishra & Ors.,
1998 (1) Suppl. SCR 77 = AIR 1999 SC 114; Dattaraj Natthuji Thaware v.
State of Maharashtra, 2004 (6) Suppl. SCR 900 = AIR 2005 SC 540; Neetu v.
State of Punjab & Ors., 2007 (1) SCR 223 = AIR 2007 SC 758; and Ghulam
Qadir v. Special Tribunal & Ors., 2001 (3) Suppl. SCR 504 = (2002) 1 SCC
33 – referred to.

Locus standi:

2.1 It is evident that under ordinary circumstances, a third person,
having no concern with the case at hand, cannot claim to have any locus-
standi to raise any grievance whatsoever. However, in the exceptional
circumstances if the actual persons aggrieved, because of ignorance,
illiteracy, inarticulation or poverty, are unable to approach the court,
and a public spirited person approaches the court, then the court may
examine the issue and even if his bonafides are doubted, but the issue
raised by him, in the opinion of the court, requires consideration, the
court may proceed suo-motu, in such respect. [para 22]

Vinoy Kumar v. State of U.P., 2001 ( 2 ) SCR 1196 = AIR 2001 SC 1739;
Ravi Yashwant Bhoir v. District Collector, Raigad & Ors., (2012) 4 SCC 407;
K. Manjusree v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Anr., 2008 (2 ) SCR 1025 =
(2008) 3 SCC 512 – relied on

Balbir Kaur & Anr. v. Uttar Pradesh Secondary Education Services Selection
Board, Allahabad & Ors., 2008 (9) SCR 130 = (2008) 12 SCC 1; Raju
Ramsingh Vasave v. Mahesh Deorao Bhiavapurkar & Ors., 2008 (12 ) SCR 992
= (2008) 9 SCC 54; and Manohar Joshi v. State of Maharashtra & Ors., (2012)
3 SCC 619 – referred to.

2.2 In the instant case, as respondent no.5 does not belong to the
Scheduled Tribes category, the garb adopted by him, of serving the cause of
Scheduled Tribes candidates who might have been deprived of their
legitimate right to be considered for the post, must be considered in order
to determine whether he is, in fact, in a legitimate position to lay any
claim before any forum, whatsoever. The conduct of respondent no. 5, who
has been pursuing the said matter from one court to another, is found to be
reprehensible, and without any sense of responsibility as he could not
submit any satisfactory response to the directions issued by this Court on
29.10.2012. Therefore, this Court is highly doubtful as regards his
bonafides. He has, therefore, disentitled himself from appearing either
before this Court, or any other court, or Committee, so far as the instant
case is concerned. [para 16 and 44]

Cross-examination as part of the principles of natural justice:

3.1 A Constitution Bench of this Court in Chintaman Sadashiva
Vaishampayan’s case, held that the rules of natural justice, require that a
party must be given the opportunity to adduce all relevant evidence upon
which he relies and further that the evidence of the opposite party should
be taken in his presence, and that he should be given the opportunity of
cross-examining the witnesses examined by that party. Not providing the
said opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, would violate the principles
of natural justice. This Court is of the considered opinion that the right
of cross-examination is an integral part of the principles of natural
justice. [para 23 and 25]

State of M.P. v. Chintaman Sadashiva Vaishampayan, AIR 1961 SC 1623; Union
of India v. T.R. Varma, 1958 SCR 499 = AIR 1957 SC 882; Meenglas Tea Estate
v. Workmen, 1964 SCR 165 = AIR 1963 SC 1719; M/s. Kesoram Cotton Mills
Ltd. v. Gangadhar & Ors., 1964 SCR 809 = AIR 1964 SC 708; New India
Assurance Company Ltd . v . Nusli Neville Wadia and Anr., 2007 (13) SCR
598 = AIR 2008 SC 876; Rachpal Singh & Ors. v. Gurmit Singh & Ors., AIR
2009 SC 2448; Biecco Lawrie & Anr. v. State of West Bengal & Anr., 2009
(11) SCR 972 = AIR 2010 SC 142; State of Uttar Pradesh v. Saroj Kumar
Sinha, 2010 (2) SCR 326 = AIR 2010 SC 3131; and Lakshman Exports Ltd.
v. Collector of Central Excise (2005) 10 SCC 634 – relied on

K.L. Tripathi v. State Bank of India & Ors., AIR 1984 SC 273; Union of
India v. P.K. Roy AIR 1968 SC 850; and Channabasappa Basappa Happali v.
State of Mysore, AIR 1972 SC 32; Transmission Corpn. of A.P. Ltd. v. Sri
Rama Krishna Rice Mill, AIR 2006 SC 1445 ; Rajiv Arora v. Union of India &
Ors., AIR 2009 SC 1100 – referred to.

3.2 In the instant case, the appellant raised the grievance that, the
evidence of a large number of persons had been recorded by the Scrutiny
Committee behind his back, and that he had not been given an opportunity to
cross-examine the witnesses that were examined by the other side and,
therefore, he was unable to lead a proper defence. He filed an application
for the purpose of recalling 3 witnesses named therein so that he may
cross-examine them. He also filed another application on the same day,
seeking a period of 30 days time, to file his reply as is required within
the provisions of r.12(8) of the Rules 2003, and yet another application
for the purpose of calling of records from the office of the Tehsildar, to
ascertain the genuineness of the certificate impugned. None of the said
applications have been decided. In pursuance of the order of this
Court, the original record was produced, but it does not indicate that the
appellant was, in fact, given an opportunity to cross-examine the
witnesses, or that all the said witnesses were examined in the presence of
the appellant. [para 40 and 42]

Affidavit – whether evidence within the meaning of Section 3 of the
Evidence Act, 1872:

4.1 It is a settled legal proposition that an affidavit is not evidence
within the meaning of s. 3 of the Evidence Act, 1872. Affidavits are,
therefore, not included within the purview of the definition of “evidence”
as has been given in s.3 of the Evidence Act, and the same can be used as
“evidence” only if, for sufficient reasons, the court passes an order under
Order XIX of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Thus, the filing of an
affidavit of one’s own statement, in one’s own favour, cannot be regarded
as sufficient evidence for any court or tribunal, on the basis of which it
can come to a conclusion as regards a particular fact-situation.
[para 31]

Sudha Devi v. M.P. Narayanan & Ors., 1988 ( 3) SCR 756 = AIR 1988 SC
1381; and Range Forest Officer v. S.T. Hadimani, 2002 (1) SCR 1080 = AIR
2002 SC 1147; M/s Bareilly Electricity Supply Co. Ltd. v. The Workmen &
Ors., 1972 (1) SCR 241 = AIR 1972 SC 330; Needle Industries (India) Ltd. &
Ors. v. N.I.N.I.H. Ltd. & Ors., 1981 (3) SCR 698 = AIR 1981 SC 1298;
Ramesh Kumar v. Kesho Ram, AIR 1992 SC 700; Standard Chartered Bank v.
Andhra Bank Financial Services Ltd. & Ors., 2006 (2) Suppl. SCR 1 =
(2006) 6 SCC 94 – referred to

4.2 However, in a case where the deponent is available for cross-
examination, and opportunity is given to the other side to cross-examine
him, the affidavit can be relied upon. Such view stands fully affirmed
particularly, in view of the amended provisions of Order XVIII, Rules 4 and
5 CPC. In certain other circumstances, in order to avoid technicalities of
procedure, the legislature, or a court/tribunal, can even lay down a
procedure to meet the requirement of compliance with the principles of
natural justice and, thus, the case will be examined in the light of those
statutory rules etc. [para 36]

5.1 It is evident from the judgment in Daya Ram, that the purpose of
issuing directions in Km. Madhuri Patil, was only to examine those cases,
where caste certificates had been issued without conducting any prior
enquiry, on the basis of self- affidavits regarding one’s caste alone, and
that the said directions were not at all applicable where a legislation
governing or regulating the grant of caste certificates exists, and where
caste certificates are issued after due and proper enquiry. Caste
certificates issued by holding proper enquiry, in accordance with duly
prescribed procedure, would not require any further verification by the
scrutiny committee. [para 39]

Km. Madhuri Patil v. Addl. Commissioner, Tribal Development, 1994 (3)
Suppl. SCR 50 = (1994) 6 SCC 241; and Daya Ram v. Sudhir Batham & Ors.,
(2012) 1 SCC 333 – referred to.

5.2 In the instant case, the Scrutiny Committee in ordinary
circumstances examined the matter and after investigation through its
Vigilance Cell and considering all the documentary evidence on record and
after being satisfied, granted the caste verification certificate in 2000.
Section 114 Ill.(e) of the Evidence Act provided for the court to pronounce
that the decision taken by the Scrutiny Committee has been done in regular
course and the caste certificate has been issued after due verification.
Such a presumption is based on legal maxim “Omnia praesumuntur rite esse
acta” i.e. all acts are presumed to have rightly and regularly been done,
and it can be rebutted by adducing appropriate evidence. Mere statement
made in the written statement/petition is not enough to rebut the
presumption. The onus of rebuttal lies upon the person who alleges that the
act had not been regularly performed or the procedure required under the
law had not been followed. A very strong material/evidence is required to
rebut the presumption. Once respondent no. 5 had challenged the caste
certificate, he must have acted seriously and brought the material before
the Scrutiny Committee to show that the earlier decision was improbable or
factually incorrect. [para 45]

Gopal Narain v. State of U.P. & Anr., 1964 SCR 869 = AIR 1964 SC 370;
Narayan Govind Gavate & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors., 1977 (1) SCR
763 =AIR 1977 SC 183; Karewwa & Ors.v. Hussensab Khansaheb Wajantri & Ors.,
AIR 2002 SC 504; Engineering Kamgar Union v. Electro Steels Castings Ltd.
& Anr., 2004 (1) Suppl. SCR 301 = (2004) 6 SCC 36; Mohd. Shahabuddin v.
State of Bihar, 2010 (3) SCR 911 = (2010) 4 SCC 653; Punjab State
Electricity Board & Anr. v. Ashwani Kumar, 2010 (7) SCR 1158 = (2010) 7 SCC
569; M. Chandra v. M. Thangmuthu & Anr., AIR 2010 (11) SCR 38 = 2011 SC
146; and R. Ramachandran Nair v. Deputy Superintendent, Vigilance Police
2011 (3) SCR 1054 = (2011) 4 SCC 395 – referred to.

5.3 Considering the seriousness of the allegations, as the Scrutiny
Committee has already conducted an inquiry in relation to this matter, and
the only grievance of the appellant is that there has been non-compliance
with the principles of natural justice, and the fact that the applications
filed by him, were not decided upon, it is directed that before the
submission of any report by the Scrutiny Committee, the application filed
by the appellant for calling the witnesses for cross-examination must be
disposed of, and he must be given a fair opportunity to cross-examine the
witnesses, who have been examined before the Committee. The Scrutiny
Committee is further directed to pass appropriate orders in accordance with
the law thereafter. In case, the Scrutiny Committee has already taken a
decision, the same being violative of the principles of natural justice,
would stand vitiated. [para 46]

5.4 However, considering the fact that respondent no. 5 has not been
pursuing the matter in a bonafide manner, and has not raised any public
interest, rather he abused the process of the court only to harass the
appellant, he is restrained from intervening in the matter any further, and
also from remaining a party to it, and he is also liable to pay costs to
the tune of Rs. one lakh, to the District Collector, who would deposit the
said amount in the account of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee.
[para 47]

Case Law Reference

1952 SCR 28 referred to para 7
1955 SCR 707 referred to para 7
1962 Suppl. SCR 1 referred to para 7
1996 (4) Suppl. SCR 393 referred to para 7
2008 (17) SCR 85 referred to para 7
1975 (1) SCR 550 referred to
para 8
1978 (1) SCR 1 referred to para 8
2008 (2) SCR 297 referred to
para 9
2011 (9) SCR 453 referred to para 10
1950 SCR 869 referred to para 11
1980 (2) SCR 557 referred to
para 11
AIR 1987 SC 2021 referred to
para 11
1992 Suppl. SCR 592 referred to
para 11
1992 (1) Suppl. SCR 898 referred to para 11
2012 (10) JT 393 referred to
para 11
AIR 1980 SC 856 referred to para 12
2009 (16) SCR 111 referred to para 12
2010 (1) SCR 678 referred to para 12
2011 (6) SCR 403 referred to para 12
1998 (1) Suppl. SCR 77 referred to para 13
2004 (6) Suppl. SCR 900 referred to para 13
2007 (1) SCR 223 referred to para 13
2001 (3) Suppl. SCR 504 referred to para 14
(2012) 4 SCC 407 referred to
para 16
2008 (2) SCR 1025 relied on para 18
2008 (9) SCR 130 referred to para 19
2008 (12) SCR 992 referred to para 20
(2012) 3 SCC 619 referred to
para 20
2001 (2) SCR 1196 relied on para 21
AIR 1961 SC 1623 relied on
para 23
1958 SCR 499 relied on para 23
1964 SCR 809 relied on para 23
1964 SCR 165 relied on para 23
2009 AIR 2448 relied on para 23
2009 (11) SCR 972 relied on para23
2010 (2) SCR 326 relied on para 23
2005 (10) SCC 634 relied on para 24
2007 (13) SCR 598 relied on para 25
AIR 1984 SC 273 referred to para 26
AIR 1968 SC 850 referred to para 26
AIR 1972 SC 32 referred to para 26
AIR 2006 SC 1445 referred to para 27
AIR 2009 SC 1100 referred to para 29
1988 (3) SCR 756 referred to para 31
2002 (1) SCR 1080 referred to para 31
1972 (1) SCR 241 referred to para 32
1981 (3) SCR 698 referred to para 33
1992 AIR 700 referred to para 34
2006 (2) Suppl. SCR 1 referred to para 35
1994 (3) Suppl. SCR 50 referred to para 37
(2012) 1 SCC 333 referred to para 38
1964 SCR 869 referred to para 45
1977 (1) SCR 763 referred to para 45
2002 AIR 504 referred to para 45
2004 (1) Suppl. SCR 301 referred to para 45
2010 (3) SCR 911 referred to para 45
2010 (7) SCR 1158 referred to para 45
2010 (11) SCR 38 referred to para 45
2011 (3) SCR 1054 referred to para 45

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREMECOURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7728 OF 2012
Ayaaubkhan Noorkhan Pathan … Appellant
Versus
The State of Maharashtra & Ors. … Respondents
J U D G M E N T
DR. B.S. CHAUHAN, J.:
1. This appeal has been preferred against the impugned judgment and
order dated 22.9.2009, passed by the High Court of Bombay (Aurangabad
Bench) in Writ Petition No.3129 of 2009, filed by respondent no.5,
challenging the caste certificate of the appellant.
2. The facts and circumstances giving rise to this appeal are as
follows:
A. The competent authority in the present case, issued a caste
certificate dated 19.10.1989, after following due procedure, in favour
of the appellant stating that he does in fact, belong to Bhil Tadvi
(Scheduled Tribes). On the basis of the said certificate, the
appellant was appointed as Senior Clerk in the Municipal Corporation
of Aurangabad (hereinafter referred to as the, ‘Corporation’) on
6.2.1990, against the vacancy reserved for persons under the Scheduled
Tribes category. The Corporation referred the caste certificate of
the appellant for the purpose of verification, to the Caste
Certificate Scrutiny Committee (hereinafter referred to as the,
“Scrutiny Committee”). The Vigilance Cell attached to the Scrutiny
Committee, upon conducting vigilance enquiry, vide order dated
29.12.1998, found that the appellant did, in fact, belong to Bhil
Tadvi (Scheduled Tribes) and thus, the said certificate was verified.
The Scrutiny Committee, on the basis of the said report and also other
documents filed by the appellant in support of his case, issued a
validity certificate, dated 23.5.2000 to the appellant belonging to
Bhil Tadvi (Scheduled Tribes). After the lapse of a period of 9 years,
respondent no.5 filed complaint dated 9.1.2009, through an advocate
before the Scrutiny Committee, for the purpose of recalling the said
validity certificate, on the ground that the appellant had obtained
employment by way of misrepresentation, and that he does not actually
belong to the Scheduled Tribes category. In fact, the appellant
professed the religion of Islam and therefore, could not be a
Scheduled Tribe.
B. The Scrutiny Committee rejected the said application vide order
dated 13.3.2009, observing that it had no power to recall or to review
a caste validity certificate, as there is no statutory provision that
provides for the same.
C. Aggrieved, respondent no.5 challenged the order dated 13.3.2009,
by filing Writ Petition No.3129 of 2009 before the High Court of
Bombay (Aurangabad Bench), praying for quashing of the order dated
13.3.2009, and directing the Scrutiny Committee to hold de novo
enquiry, with respect to the appellant’s caste certificate. The
appellant contested the said petition, denying all the allegations
made by respondent no.5. Vide its impugned judgment and order dated
22.9.2009, the High Court disposed of the said writ petition without
going into the merits of the case. However, while doing so, the High
Court set aside the order dated 13.3.2009, and remitted the matter to
the Scrutiny Committee, directing it to hear all the parties concerned
in accordance with law, as regards the allegations made by respondent
no.5 in the complaint. It further directed the Committee to decide
the said matter within a period of 6 months.
Hence, this present appeal.
3. Before proceeding further, it may also be pertinent to refer to
certain subsequent developments.
During the pendency of this appeal, this Court vide order dated
20.11.2009, granted a stay with respect to the operation of the
aforementioned impugned judgment. Vide order dated 6.1.2012, the said
interim order was modified, to the extent that the Scrutiny Committee
would re-examine the case on merit, without being influenced by
earlier proceedings before it, and by giving adequate opportunity to
the parties to lead evidence in support of their respective cases
after which, the Scrutiny Committee would submit its report to this
Court within a period of 3 months.
4. Shri A.V. Savant, learned Senior counsel, appearing for the
appellant has submitted that respondent no.5 does not belong to any
reserved category, infact, he belongs to the General category, and
hence, he has no right or locus standi, to challenge the appellant’s
certificate. Thus, the High Court committed an error by directing the
Scrutiny Committee to entertain the complaint filed by respondent
no.5. It has further been submitted that, despite the directions
given by this Court, the Scrutiny Committee failed to ensure
compliance with the principles of natural justice, as the appellant
was denied the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, and no order
was passed with respect to his application for recalling such
witnesses for the purpose of cross-examination, which has no doubt,
resulted in the grave miscarriage of justice. The affidavit filed by
the Scrutiny Committee did not clarify, or make any specific statement
with respect to whether or not the appellant was permitted to cross-
examine witnesses. It further, did not clarify whether the application
dated 28.2.2012, filed by the appellant to re-call witnesses for the
purpose of cross-examination, has been disposed of. Moreover, the
procedure adopted by the Scrutiny Committee is in contravention of the
statutory requirements, as have been specified under the Maharashtra
Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, De-Notified Tribes, (Vimukta
Jatis), Nomadic Tribes, Other Backward Category (Regulation of
Issuance and Verification of) Caste Certificate Act, 2000 (Maharashtra
Act No. XXIII of 2001 (hereinafter referred to as the, `Act 2001’),
and the Rules, 2003 which are framed under the Act 2001 and therefore,
all proceedings hereby stand vitiated. The appellant placed reliance
upon several documents which are all very old and therefore, their
authenticity should not have been doubted. The earlier report
submitted by the Vigilance Cell dated 29.12.1998, clearly stated that
the traits and characteristics of the appellant’s family, matched with
those of Bhil Tadvi (Scheduled Tribes). The action of respondent no.5
is therefore, completely malifide and is intended, solely to harass
the appellant, and the High Court committed grave error in not
deciding the issue related to the locus standi of respondent no.5 in
relation to him filing a complaint in the first place, as the said
issue was specifically raised by the appellant. Therefore, the
present appeal deserves to be allowed.
5. Per contra, Shri Shankar Chillarge, learned counsel appearing
for the Scrutiny Committee, has made elaborate submissions, in support
of the impugned judgment and subsequent proceedings. Mr. Udaya Kumar
Sagar and Ms. Bina Madhavan, learned counsel appearing for respondent
no.5, have also supported the impugned judgment of the High Court and
has further submitted that even though respondent no.5, does not
belong to the Scheduled Tribes category, he most certainly could file
a complaint against the appellant, at such a belated stage, as the
appellant had obtained employment in 1989, by way of mis-
representation and fraud. Respondent no.5, being a public spirited
person has espoused the cause of the real persons who have been
deprived of their right to be considered for the said post occupied by
the appellant. Respondent No. 5 has also filed affidavits of relevant
persons before the Scrutiny Committee, to prove his allegations. Thus,
the present appeal lacks merit and is liable to be dismissed.
6. We have considered the rival submissions made by learned counsel
for the parties and perused the record.
Person aggrieved :
7. It is a settled legal proposition that a stranger cannot be
permitted to meddle in any proceeding, unless he satisfies the
Authority/Court, that he falls within the category of aggrieved
persons.
Only a person who has suffered, or suffers from legal injury can
challenge the act/action/order etc. in a court of law. A writ petition
under Article 226 of the Constitution is maintainable either for the
purpose of enforcing a statutory or legal right, or when there is a
complaint by the appellant that there has been a breach of statutory
duty on the part of the Authorities. Therefore, there must be a
judicially enforceable right available for enforcement, on the basis
of which writ jurisdiction is resorted to. The Court can of course,
enforce the performance of a statutory duty by a public body, using
its writ jurisdiction at the behest of a person, provided that such
person satisfies the Court that he has a legal right to insist on such
performance. The existence of such right is a condition precedent for
invoking the writ jurisdiction of the courts. It is implicit in the
exercise of such extraordinary jurisdiction that, the relief prayed
for must be one to enforce a legal right. Infact, the existence of
such right, is the foundation of the exercise of the said jurisdiction
by the Court. The legal right that can be enforced must ordinarily be
the right of the appellant himself, who complains of infraction of
such right and approaches the Court for relief as regards the same.
(Vide : State of Orissa v. Madan Gopal Rungta, AIR 1952 SC 12; Saghir
Ahmad & Anr. v. State of U.P., AIR 1954 SC 728; Calcutta Gas Company
(Proprietary) Ltd. v. State of West Bengal & Ors., AIR 1962 SC 1044;
Rajendra Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1996 SC 2736; and
Tamilnad Mercantile Bank Shareholders Welfare Association (2) v. S.C.
Sekar & Ors., (2009) 2 SCC 784).
8. A “legal right”, means an entitlement arising out of legal
rules. Thus, it may be defined as an advantage, or a benefit
conferred upon a person by the rule of law. The expression, “person
aggrieved” does not include a person who suffers from a psychological
or an imaginary injury; a person aggrieved must therefore, necessarily
be one, whose right or interest has been adversely affected or
jeopardised. (Vide: Shanti Kumar R. Chanji v. Home Insurance Co. of
New York, AIR 1974 SC 1719; and State of Rajasthan & Ors. v. Union of
India & Ors., AIR 1977 SC 1361).
9. In Anand Sharadchandra Oka v. University of Mumbai, AIR 2008 SC
1289, a similar view was taken by this Court, observing that, if a
person claiming relief is not eligible as per requirement, then he
cannot be said to be a person aggrieved regarding the election or the
selection of other persons.
10. In A. Subhash Babu v. State of A. P. , AIR 2011 SC 3031, this
Court held:
“The expression ‘aggrieved person’ denotes an elastic and an
elusive concept. It cannot be confined within the bounds of
a rigid, exact and comprehensive definition. Its scope and
meaning depends on diverse, variable factors such as the
content and intent of the statute of which contravention is
alleged, the specific circumstances of the case, the nature
and extent of complainant’s interest and the nature and the
extent of the prejudice or injury suffered by the
complainant.”
11. This Court, even as regards the filing of a habeas corpus
petition, has explained that the expression, ‘next friend’ means a
person who is not a total stranger. Such a petition cannot be filed by
one who is a complete stranger to the person who is in alleged illegal
custody. (Vide: Charanjit Lal Chowdhury v. The Union of India & Ors.,
AIR 1951 SC 41; Sunil Batra (II) v. Delhi Administration, AIR 1980 SC
1579; Mrs. Neelima Priyadarshini v. State of Bihar, AIR 1987 SC 2021;
Simranjit Singh Mann v. Union of India, AIR 1993 SC 280; Karamjeet
Singh v. Union of India, AIR 1993 SC 284; and Kishore Samrite v.
State of U.P. & Ors., JT (2012) 10 SC 393).
12. This Court has consistently cautioned the courts against
entertaining public interest litigation filed by unscrupulous persons,
as such meddlers do not hesitate to abuse the process of the court.
The right of effective access to justice, which has emerged with the
new social rights regime, must be used to serve basic human rights,
which purport to guarantee legal rights and, therefore, a workable
remedy within the framework of the judicial system must be provided.
Whenever any public interest is invoked, the court must examine the
case to ensure that there is in fact, genuine public interest
involved. The court must maintain strict vigilance to ensure that
there is no abuse of the process of court and that, “ordinarily
meddlesome bystanders are not granted a Visa”. Many societal
pollutants create new problems of non-redressed grievances, and the
court should make an earnest endeavour to take up those cases, where
the subjective purpose of the lis justifies the need for it. (Vide:
P.S.R. Sadhanantham v. Arunachalam & Anr., AIR 1980 SC 856; Dalip
Singh v. State of U.P. & Ors., (2010) 2 SCC 114; State of Uttaranchal
v. Balwant Singh Chaufal & Ors., (2010) 3 SCC 402; and Amar Singh v.
Union of India & Ors., (2011) 7 SCC 69)
13. Even as regards the filing of a Public Interest Litigation, this
Court has consistently held that such a course of action is not
permissible so far as service matters are concerned. (Vide: Dr.
Duryodhan Sahu & Ors. v. Jitendra Kumar Mishra & Ors., AIR 1999 SC
114; Dattaraj Natthuji Thaware v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 2005 SC
540; and Neetu v. State of Punjab & Ors., AIR 2007 SC 758)
14. In Ghulam Qadir v. Special Tribunal & Ors., (2002) 1 SCC 33,
this Court considered a similar issue and observed as under:–
“There is no dispute regarding the legal proposition that
the rights under Article 226 of the Constitution of India
can be enforced only by an aggrieved person except in the
case where the writ prayed for is for habeas corpus or quo
warranto. Another exception in the general rule is the
filing of a writ petition in public interest. The existence
of the legal right of the petitioner which is alleged to
have been violated is the foundation for invoking the
jurisdiction of the High Court under the aforesaid article.
The orthodox rule of interpretation regarding the locus
standi of a person to reach the Court has undergone a sea
change with the development of constitutional law in our
country and the constitutional Courts have been adopting a
liberal approach in dealing with the cases or dislodging the
claim of a litigant merely on hyper-technical grounds.——-
-In other words, if the person is found to be not merely a
stranger having no right whatsoever to any post or property,
he cannot be non-suited on the ground of his not having the
locus standi.” (Emphasis added)
15. In view of the above, the law on the said point can be
summarised to the effect that a person who raises a grievance, must
show how he has suffered legal injury. Generally, a stranger having no
right whatsoever to any post or property, cannot be permitted to
intervene in the affairs of others.

Locus standi of respondent no.5 :
16. As respondent no.5 does not belong to the Scheduled Tribes
category, the garb adopted by him, of serving the cause of Scheduled
Tribes candidates who might have been deprived of their legitimate
right to be considered for the post, must be considered by this Court
in order to determine whether respondent no. 5, is in fact, in a
legitimate position to lay any claim before any forum, whatsoever.
17. This Court in Ravi Yashwant Bhoir v. District Collector, Raigad
& Ors., (2012) 4 SCC 407, held as under:
“Shri Chintaman Raghunath Gharat, ex-President was the
complainant, thus, at the most, he could lead evidence as a
witness. He could not claim the status of an adversarial
litigant. The complainant cannot be the party to the lis. A
legal right is an averment of entitlement arising out of
law. In fact, it is a benefit conferred upon a person by the
rule of law. Thus, a person who suffers from legal injury
can only challenge the act or omission. There may be some
harm or loss that may not be wrongful in the eye of the law
because it may not result in injury to a legal right or
legally protected interest of the complainant but
juridically harm of this description is called damnum sine
injuria.
The complainant has to establish that he has been
deprived of or denied of a legal right and he has sustained
injury to any legally protected interest. In case he has no
legal peg for a justiciable claim to hang on, he cannot be
heard as a party in a lis. A fanciful or sentimental
grievance may not be sufficient to confer a locus standi to
sue upon the individual. There must be injuria or a legal
grievance which can be appreciated and not a stat pro
ratione voluntas reasons i.e. a claim devoid of reasons.
Under the garb of being a necessary party, a person
cannot be permitted to make a case as that of general public
interest. A person having a remote interest cannot be
permitted to become a party in the lis, as the person who
wants to become a party in a case, has to establish that he
has a proprietary right which has been or is threatened to
be violated, for the reason that a legal injury creates a
remedial right in the injured person. A person cannot be
heard as a party unless he answers the description of
aggrieved party.”

18. A similar view has been re-iterated by this Court in K.
Manjusree v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Anr., (2008) 3 SCC 512, wherein
it was held that, the applicant before the High Court could not
challenge the appointment of a person as she was in no way aggrieved,
for she herself could not have been selected by adopting either
method. Morever, the appointment cannot be challenged at a belated
stage and, hence, the petition should have been rejected by the High
Court, on the grounds of delay and non-maintainability, alone.
19. In Balbir Kaur & Anr. v. Uttar Pradesh Secondary Education
Services Selection Board, Allahabad & Ors., (2008) 12 SCC 1, it has
been held that a violation of the equality clauses, enshrined in
Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution, or discrimination in any form,
can be alleged, provided that, the writ petitioner demonstrates a
certain appreciable disadvantage qua other similarly situated persons.
20. While dealing with the similar issue, this Court in Raju
Ramsingh Vasave v. Mahesh Deorao Bhiavapurkar & Ors., (2008) 9 SCC 54
held:
“We must now deal with the question of locus standi. A
special leave petition ordinarily would not have been
entertained at the instance of the appellant. Validity of
appointment or otherwise on the basis of a caste certificate
granted by a committee is ordinarily a matter between the
employer and the employee. This Court, however, when a
question is raised, can take cognizance of a matter of such
grave importance suo motu. It may not treat the special
leave petition as a public interest litigation, but, as a
public law litigation. It is, in a proceeding of that
nature, permissible for the court to make a detailed enquiry
with regard to the broader aspects of the matter although it
was initiated at the instance of a person having a private
interest. A deeper scrutiny can be made so as to enable the
court to find out as to whether a party to a lis is guilty
of commission of fraud on the Constitution. If such an
enquiry subserves the greater public interest and has a far-
reaching effect on the society, in our opinion, this Court
will not shirk its responsibilities from doing so.”
(See also: Manohar Joshi v. State of Maharashtra & Ors., (2012) 3 SCC
619)
21. In Vinoy Kumar v. State of U.P., AIR 2001 SC 1739, this Court
held:
“Even in cases filed in public interest, the court can
exercise the writ jurisdiction at the instance of a third
party only when it is shown that the legal wrong or legal
injury or illegal burden is threatened and such person or
determined class of person is by reason of poverty,
helplessness or disability or socially or economically
disadvantaged position, unable to approach the court for
relief.”
22. Thus, from the above it is evident that under ordinary
circumstances, a third person, having no concern with the case at
hand, cannot claim to have any locus-standi to raise any grievance
whatsoever. However, in the exceptional circumstances as referred to
above, if the actual persons aggrieved, because of ignorance,
illiteracy, inarticulation or poverty, are unable to approach the
court, and a person, who has no personal agenda, or object, in
relation to which, he can grind his own axe, approaches the court,
then the court may examine the issue and in exceptional circumstances,
even if his bonafides are doubted, but the issue raised by him, in
the opinion of the court, requires consideration, the court may
proceed suo-motu, in such respect.
Cross-examination is one part of the principles of natural justice:
23. A Constitution Bench of this Court in State of M.P. v. Chintaman
Sadashiva Vaishampayan, AIR 1961 SC 1623, held that the rules of
natural justice, require that a party must be given the opportunity to
adduce all relevant evidence upon which he relies, and further that,
the evidence of the opposite party should be taken in his presence,
and that he should be given the opportunity of cross-examining the
witnesses examined by that party. Not providing the said opportunity
to cross-examine witnesses, would violate the principles of natural
justice. (See also: Union of India v.T.R. Varma, AIR 1957 SC 882;
Meenglas Tea Estate v. Workmen, AIR 1963 SC 1719; M/s. Kesoram Cotton
Mills Ltd. v. Gangadhar & Ors., AIR 1964 SC 708; New India Assurance
Company Ltd . v . Nusli Neville Wadia and Anr., AIR 2008 SC 876;
Rachpal Singh & Ors. v. Gurmit Singh & Ors., AIR 2009 SC 2448; Biecco
Lawrie & Anr. v. State of West Bengal & Anr., AIR 2010 SC 142; and
State of Uttar Pradesh v. Saroj Kumar Sinha, AIR 2010 SC 3131).
24. In Lakshman Exports Ltd. v. Collector of Central Excise, (2005)
10 SCC 634, this Court, while dealing with a case under the Central
Excise Act, 1944, considered a similar issue i.e. permission with
respect to the cross-examination of a witness. In the said case, the
assessee had specifically asked to be allowed to cross-examine the
representatives of the firms concern, to establish that the goods in
question had been accounted for in their books of accounts, and that
excise duty had been paid. The Court held that such a request could
not be turned down, as the denial of the right to cross-examine, would
amount to a denial of the right to be heard i.e. audi alteram partem.
25. In New India Assurance Company Ltd., v. Nusli Neville Wadia &
Anr., AIR 2008 SC 876; this Court considered a case under the Public
Premises ( Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 and held as
follows :-
“If some facts are to be proved by the landlord,
indisputably the occupant should get an opportunity to cross-
examine. The witness who intends to prove the said fact has
the right to cross-examine the witness. This may not be
provided by under the statute, but it being a part of the
principle of natural justice should be held to be
indefeasible right.” (Emphasis added)
In view of the above, we are of the considered opinion that the
right of cross-examination is an integral part of the principles of
natural justice.
26. In K.L. Tripathi v. State Bank of India & Ors., AIR 1984 SC 273,
this Court held that, in order to sustain a complaint of the violation
of the principles of natural justice on the ground of absence of
opportunity of cross-examination, it must be established that some
prejudice has been caused to the appellant by the procedure followed.
A party, who does not want to controvert the veracity of the evidence
on record, or of the testimony gathered behind his back, cannot expect
to succeed in any subsequent grievance raised by him, stating that no
opportunity of cross-examination was provided to him, specially when
the same was not requested, and there was no dispute regarding the
veracity of the statement. (See also: Union of India v. P.K. Roy, AIR
1968 SC 850; and Channabasappa Basappa Happali v. State of Mysore, AIR
1972 SC 32).
27. In Transmission Corpn. of A.P. Ltd. v. Sri Rama Krishna Rice
Mill, AIR 2006 SC 1445, this Court held:
“ In order to establish that the cross-examination is
necessary, the consumer has to make out a case for the same.
Merely stating that the statement of an officer is being
utilised for the purpose of adjudication would not be
sufficient in all cases. If an application is made
requesting for grant of an opportunity to cross-examine any
official, the same has to be considered by the adjudicating
authority who shall have to either grant the request or pass
a reasoned order if he chooses to reject the application. In
that event an adjudication being concluded, it shall be
certainly open to the consumer to establish before the
Appellate Authority as to how he has been prejudiced by the
refusal to grant an opportunity to cross-examine any
official”.
28. The meaning of providing a reasonable opportunity to show cause
against an action proposed to be taken by the government, is that the
government servant is afforded a reasonable opportunity to defend
himself against the charges, on the basis of which an inquiry is held.
The government servant should be given an opportunity to deny his
guilt and establish his innocence. He can do so only when he is told
what the charges against him are. He can therefore, do so by cross-
examining the witnesses produced against him. The object of supplying
statements is that, the government servant will be able to refer to
the previous statements of the witnesses proposed to be examined
against him. Unless the said statements are provided to the government
servant, he will not be able to conduct an effective and useful cross-
examination.
29. In Rajiv Arora v. Union of India & Ors., AIR 2009 SC 1100, this
Court held:
“Effective cross-examination could have been done as regards
the correctness or otherwise of the report, if the contents
of them were proved. The principles analogous to the
provisions of the Indian Evidence Act as also
the principles of natural justice demand that the maker of
the report should be examined, save and except in cases
where the facts are admitted or the witnesses are not
available for cross-examination or similar situation. The
High Court in its impugned judgment proceeded to consider
the issue on a technical plea, namely, no prejudice has been
caused to the appellant by such non-examination. If the
basic principles of law have not been complied with or there
has been a gross violation of
the principles of natural justice, the High Court should
have exercised its jurisdiction of judicial review.”
30. The aforesaid discussion makes it evident that, not only should
the opportunity of cross-examination be made available, but it should
be one of effective cross-examination, so as to meet the requirement
of the principles of natural justice. In the absence of such an
opportunity, it cannot be held that the matter has been decided in
accordance with law, as cross-examination is an integral part and
parcel of the principles of natural justice.
31. Affidavit – whether evidence within the meaning of Section 3 of
the Evidence Act, 1872:
It is a settled legal proposition that an affidavit is not
evidence within the meaning of Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act,
1872 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Evidence Act’).
Affidavits are therefore, not included within the purview of the
definition of “evidence” as has been given in Section 3 of the
Evidence Act, and the same can be used as “evidence” only if, for
sufficient reasons, the Court passes an order under Order XIX of the
Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘CPC’).
Thus, the filing of an affidavit of one’s own statement, in one’s own
favour, cannot be regarded as sufficient evidence for any Court or
Tribunal, on the basis of which it can come to a conclusion as regards
a particular fact-situation. (Vide: Sudha Devi v. M.P. Narayanan &
Ors., AIR 1988 SC 1381; and Range Forest Officer v. S.T. Hadimani,
AIR 2002 SC 1147).
32. While examining a case under the provisions of the Industrial
Disputes Act, 1947, this Court, in M/s Bareilly Electricity Supply Co.
Ltd. v. The Workmen & Ors., AIR 1972 SC 330, considered the
application of Order XIX, Rules 1 and 2 CPC, and observed as under:-
“But the application of principles of natural justice does
not imply that what is not evidence, can be acted upon. On
the other hand, what it means is that no material can be
relied upon to establish a contested fact which are not
spoken to by the persons who are competent to speak about
them and are subject to cross-examination by the party
against whom they are sought to be used. When a document is
produced in a Court or a Tribunal, the question that
naturally arises is: is it a genuine document, what are its
contents and are the statements contained therein true……
If a letter or other document is produced to establish some
fact which is relevant to the inquiry, the writer must be
produced or his affidavit in respect thereof be filed and
opportunity afforded to the opposite party who challenges
this fact. This is both in accordance with the principles of
natural justice as also according to the procedure under O.
19 of the Code and the Evidence Act, both of which
incorporate the general principles.”
33. In Needle Industries (India) Ltd. & Ors. v. N.I.N.I.H. Ltd. &
Ors., AIR 1981 SC 1298, this Court considered a case under the Indian
Companies Act, and observed that, “it is generally unsatisfactory to
record a finding involving grave consequences with respect to a
person, on the basis of affidavits and documents alone, without asking
that person to submit to cross-examination”. However, the conduct of
the parties may be an important factor, with regard to determining
whether they showed their willingness to get the said issue determined
on the basis of affidavits, correspondence and other documents, on the
basis of which proper and necessary inferences can safely and
legitimately be drawn.
34. In Ramesh Kumar v. Kesho Ram, AIR 1992 SC 700, this Court
considered the scope of application of the provisions of O. XIX, Rr. 1
and 2 CPC in a Rent Control matter, observing as under:-
“The Court may also treat any affidavit filed in support of
the pleadings itself as one under the said provisions and
call upon the opposite side to traverse it. The Court, if it
finds that having regard to the nature of the allegations,
it is necessary to record oral evidence tested by oral cross-
examination, may have recourse to that procedure.”
35. In Standard Chartered Bank v. Andhra Bank Financial Services
Ltd. & Ors., (2006) 6 SCC 94, this Court while dealing with a case
under the provisions of Companies Act, 1956, while considering
complex issues regarding the Markets, Exchanges and Securities, and
the procedure to be followed by special Tribunals, held as under :
“While it may be true that the Special Court has been given
a certain amount of latitude in the matter of procedure, it
surely cannot fly away from established legal principles
while deciding the cases before it. As to what inference
arises from a document, is always a matter of evidence
unless the document is self-explanatory…….In the absence of
any such explanation, it was not open to the Special Court
to come up with its own explanations and decide the fate of
the suit on the basis of its inference based on such assumed
explanations.”
36. Therefore, affidavits in the light of the aforesaid discussion
are not considered to be evidence, within the meaning of Section 3 of
the Evidence Act. However, in a case where the deponent is available
for cross-examination, and opportunity is given to the other side to
cross-examine him, the same can be relied upon. Such view, stands
fully affirmed particularly, in view of the amended provisions of
Order XVIII, Rules 4 & 5 CPC. In certain other circumstances, in
order to avoid technicalities of procedure, the legislature, or a
court/tribunal, can even lay down a procedure to meet the requirement
of compliance with the principles of natural justice, and thus, the
case will be examined in the light of those statutory rules etc. as
framed by the aforementioned authorities.
37. The instant case is required to be examined in the light of the
aforesaid legal propositions. This Court examined this matter in
detail in Km. Madhuri Patil v. Addl. Commissioner, Tribal Development,
(1994) 6 SCC 241, and upon realising that spurious tribes and persons
not belonging to the Scheduled Tribes category, were snatching away
the reservation benefits that have been made available to genuine
tribals, and that they were being wrongly deprived of their rights on
the basis of false caste certificates, and that further, at a
subsequent stage such unscrupulous persons, after getting
admission/employment, were adopting dilatory tactics, the court
issued a large number of directions to investigate such cases of false
claims. The directions inter-alia included:
(1) Each Directorate should constitute a vigilance cell consisting
of Senior Deputy Superintendent of Police in over all charge and such
number of Police Inspectors to investigate into the social status
claims.
(2) The Director concerned, on receipt of the report from the
vigilance officer if he found the claim for social status to be “not
genuine’’ or “doubtful’’ or spurious or falsely or wrongly claimed,
the Director concerned should issue show cause notice supplying a copy
of the report of the vigilance officer to the candidate by a
registered post with acknowledgement due or through the head of the
concerned educational institution in which the candidate is studying
or employed……….. After giving such opportunity either in person
or through counsel, the Committee may make such inquiry as it deems
expedient and consider the claims vis-a-vis the objections raised by
the candidate or opponent and pass an appropriate order with brief
reasons in support thereof.

(3) In case the report is in favour of the candidate and found to be
genuine and true, no further action need be taken except where the
report or the particulars given are procured or found to be false or
fraudulently obtained and in the latter event the same procedure as is
envisaged in para 6 be followed.

(4) The inquiry should be completed as expeditiously as possible
preferably by day-to-day proceedings within such period not exceeding
two months. If after inquiry, the caste Scrutiny Committee finds the
claim to be false or spurious, they should pass an order cancelling
the certificate issued and confiscate the same. It should communicate
within one month from the date of the conclusion of the proceedings
the result of enquiry to the parent/guardian and the applicant.

(5) In case, the certificate obtained or social status claimed is
found to be false, the parent/guardian/the candidate should be
prosecuted for making false claim. If the prosecution ends in a
conviction and sentence of the accused, it could be regarded as an
offence involving moral turpitude, disqualification for elective posts
or offices under the State or the Union or elections to any local
body, legislature or the Parliament.

(6) As soon as the finding is recorded by the Scrutiny Committee
holding that the certificate obtained was false, on its cancellation
and confiscation simultaneously, it should be communicated to the
concerned educational institution or the appointing authority by
registered post with acknowledgement due with a request to cancel the
admission or the appointment. The principal etc. of the educational
institution responsible for making the admission or the appointing
authority, should cancel the admission/appointment without any further
notice to the candidate and debar the candidate for further study or
continue in office in a post.
The court further issued directions to all States to give effect
to the aforesaid directions, in order to ensure that the
constitutional objectives that were intended for the benefit and the
advancement of persons genuinely belonging to the Scheduled Castes and
Scheduled Tribes category, are not defeated by such unscrupulous
persons.
The Act 2000 and the Rules 2003 are based on the directions
issued by this Court in Km. Madhuri Patil (supra) as the same have
been incorporated therein.
38. The correctness of the said judgment in Km. Madhuri Patil
(supra), was doubted, and the matter was referred to and decided by a
larger bench of this Court in Daya Ram v. Sudhir Batham & Ors., (2012)
1 SCC 333, wherein, while deciding the various issues involved,
including the competence of this Court to legislate in this regard, it
was held as under:

“The scrutiny committee is not an adjudicating authority
like a Court or Tribunal, but an administrative body which
verifies the facts, investigates into a specific claim (of
caste status) and ascertains whether the caste/tribal status
claimed is correct or not……

Having regard to the scheme for verification formulated by
this Court in Madhuri Patil, the scrutiny committees carry
out verification of caste certificates issued without prior
enquiry, as for example the caste certificates issued by
Tehsildars or other officers of the departments of
Revenue/Social Welfare/Tribal Welfare, without any enquiry
or on the basis of self- affidavits about caste. If there
were to be a legislation governing or regulating grant of
caste certificates, and if caste certificates are issued
after due and proper inquiry, such caste certificates will
not call for verification by the scrutiny committees.
Madhuri Patil provides for verification only to avoid false
and bogus claims…..”
(Emphasis added)
39. Thus, it is evident from the aforesaid judgment in Daya Ram
(supra), that the purpose of issuing directions in Km. Madhuri Patil
(supra), was only to examine those cases, where caste certificates had
been issued without conducting any prior enquiry, on the basis of self-
affidavits regarding one’s caste alone, and that the said directions
were not at all applicable, where a legislation governing or
regulating the grant of caste certificates exists, and where caste
certificates are issued after due and proper enquiry. Caste
certificates issued by holding proper enquiry, in accordance with duly
prescribed procedure, would not require any further verification by
the scrutiny committee.
40. In pursuance of the said order issued by the High Court, the
Scrutiny Committee examined the case of the parties. However, with
respect to this, the appellant raised the grievance that, the evidence
of a large number of persons had been recorded by the Scrutiny
Committee behind his back, and that he had not been given an
opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses that were examined by the
other side and therefore, he was unable to lead a proper defence. The
appellant filed an application dated 28.2.2012, for the purpose of
recalling 3 witnesses, namely, Sikandar Gulab Tadvi, Bhagchand
Ganpatsing Pardeshi and Bahadursing Mukhtarsing Patil, so that he may
cross-examine them. The appellant also filed another application on
the same day, seeking a period of 30 days time, to file his reply as
is required within the provisions of Rule 12(8) of the Rules 2003, and
also another application for the purpose of calling of records from
the office of the Tehsildar, to ascertain the genuineness of the
certificate impugned. None of the said applications have been decided
till now.
41. In view thereof, this Court vide order dated 11.5.2012,
directed the learned counsel appearing for the Scrutiny Committee, to
produce the original record of the matter and to file an affidavit
with respect to whether the appellant had been given an opportunity to
cross-examine the witnesses that were examined by the other side, and
also with respect to whether the other applications filed by the
appellant, were decided upon.
42. In pursuance of the said order, the original record was
produced. However, the learned counsel remained unable to point out
from the original record, any proceeding or event, by way of which, it
could be ascertained that the appellant was in fact, given an
opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses, or to show that all the
said witnesses were examined in the presence of the appellant.
Further, he was also unable to satisfy this Court, with respect to the
circumstances under which, the applications filed by the appellant on
28.2.2012, including the one to recall witnesses and permit him to
cross-examine them, have been kept pending, without passing any order
in relation to either one of them.
43. In order to determine the genuineness and sincerity of
respondent no. 5, this Court on 29.10.2012 adjourned the matter until
5.11.2012, directing respondent no. 5 to act as under:
“Meanwhile, respondent No. 5 may file the affidavit as on
what date he appeared before the Scrutiny Committee and what
was the material produced by him and as to whether on that
petitioner had a notice of his appearance before the
Scrutiny Committee and whether the Committee has allowed the
petitioner to cross examine the respondent No. 5.”
In response to the said order, respondent no. 5 filed an
affidavit in Court on 5.11.2012. The contents of the affidavit reveal
that respondent no.5 claims that his occupation is that of a social
worker. The allegations against the appellant stating that he obtained
the said caste certificate fraudulently, have been repeated.
Respondent no. 5 has not mentioned in the affidavit, the date on which
he appeared before the Scrutiny Committee, nor has he responded to the
query raised with respect to whether he had produced any evidence to
support his allegations, or whether the appellant was allowed to cross-
examine any of the witnesses, or if in fact, he simply examined all of
them himself.
The relevant part of the abovementioned affidavit, has been re-
produced hereunder:
“That it is submitted that on 28.2.2012 the Respondent No. 5
submitted copy of Affidavit of Mr. Supdu Musa Tadvi and by
way of an application prayed for personal presence of Mr.
Supdu Musa Tadvi. Scrutiny Committee finding contradictions
in the two statement of Mr. Supdu Musa Tadvi, issued notice
to him requesting his personal presence on 17.3.2012.
However, Mr. Supdu Musa Tadri never appeared before the
Committee.”
44. The affidavit of Mr. Supdu Musa Tadri referred to hereinabove
cannot be relied upon, as the said deponent never appeared before the
Scrutiny Committee. The conduct of respondent no. 5, who has been
pursuing the said matter from one court to another, is found to be
reprehensible, and without any sense of responsibility whatsoever, as
he could not submit any satisfactory response to the directions issued
by this Court on 29.10.2012. In view of the above, we are highly
doubtful as regards his bonafides. He has therefore, disentitled
himself from appearing either before this Court, or any other court,
or Committee, so far as the instant case is concerned.
45. The Scrutiny Committee in ordinary circumstances examined the
matter and after investigation through its Vigilance Cell and
considering all the documentary evidence on record and after being
satisfied, granted the caste verification certificate in 2000.
Section 114 Ill.(e) of the Evidence Act provided for the court to
pronounce that the decision taken by the Scrutiny Committee has been
done in regular course and the caste certificate has been issued after
due verification. A very strong material/evidence is required to
rebut the presumption. In fact, respondent no. 5 has no legal peg for
a justifiable claim to hang upon. Once the respondent no. 5, for the
reasons best known to him, had challenged caste certificate under the
garb of acting as a public spirited person espousing the cause of
legitimate persons who had been deprived of their right of being
considered for appointment, the respondent no. 5 must have acted
seriously and brought the material before the Scrutiny Committee to
show that the earlier decision was improbable or factually incorrect.
Such a view stands fortified by a catena of decisions rendered by this
Court where it has been held that presumption is based on legal maxim
“Omnia praesumuntur rite esse acta” i.e. all acts are presumed to have
rightly and regularly been done.
Such a presumption can be rebutted by adducing appropriate
evidence. Mere statement made in the written statement/petition is not
enough to rebut the presumption. The onus of rebuttal lies upon the
person who alleges that the act had not been regularly performed or
the procedure required under the law had not been followed. (Vide:
Gopal Narain v. State of U.P. & Anr., AIR 1964 SC 370; Narayan Govind
Gavate & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors., AIR 1977 SC 183; Karewwa
& Ors.v. Hussensab Khansaheb Wajantri & Ors., AIR 2002 SC 504;
Engineering Kamgar Union v. Electro Steels Castings Ltd. & Anr.,
(2004) 6 SCC 36; Mohd. Shahabuddin v. State of Bihar, (2010) 4 SCC
653; Punjab State Electricity Board & Anr. v. Ashwani Kumar, (2010) 7
SCC 569; M. Chandra v. M. Thangmuthu & Anr., AIR 2011 SC 146; and R.
Ramachandran Nair v. Deputy Superintendent, Vigilance Police, (2011) 4
SCC 395)
46. In view of the above discussion and considering the seriousness
of the allegations, as the Scrutiny Committee has already conducted an
inquiry in relation to this matter, and the only grievance of the
appellant is that there has been non-compliance with the principles of
natural justice, and the fact that the applications filed by him, were
not decided upon, we direct that before the submission of any report
by the Scrutiny Committee, his application for calling the witnesses
for cross-examination must be disposed of, and appellant must be given
a fair opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses, who have been
examined before the Committee. We further direct the Scrutiny
Committee to pass appropriate orders in accordance with the law
thereafter. In case, the Scrutiny Committee has already taken a
decision, the same being violative of the principles of natural
justice, would stand vitiated.
47. The appeal is disposed of accordingly, however, considering the
fact that respondent no. 5 has not been pursuing the matter in a
bonafide manner, and has not raised any public interest, rather he
abused the process of the court only to harass the appellant, the
respondent no. 5 is restrained from intervening in the matter any
further, and also from remaining a party to it, and he is also liable
to pay costs to the tune of Rs. one lakh, within a period of 4 weeks
to the District Collector, Aurangabad. The District Collector,
Aurangabad, would deposit the said amount in the account of the
Supreme Court Legal Services Committee. In the event that, the cost
imposed is not deposited by respondent no. 5 within the period
stipulated, we request the District Collector, Aurangabad, to recover
the same as arrears of land revenue and deposit the same, accordingly.
A copy of the judgment be sent by the Registry of this Court to
the District Collector, Aurangabad (Maharashtra) for compliance.
……………………………………J.
(Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN)
……………………………………J.
(JAGDISH SINGH KHEHAR)

New Delhi,
November 8, 2012
———————–
37

 

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